During this critical time of growth, we are thrilled to welcome Jenny Choi-Fitzpatrick, an experienced leader and international development practitioner, to our leadership team. Jenny is our new Chief Operating Officer, overseeing our global finance, people, operations, legal, and IT functions in this role.
Before joining Evidence Action, Jenny served as Senior Director, Africa for Global Communities, overseeing a $210 million portfolio across various program areas, including health, food security, economic development, and humanitarian assistance in nine African countries. She has also served as Director of Operations in Bangladesh, Country Director in Tanzania, and Director of Program Quality for Project Concern International. Jenny has also been on the faculty of the School of Public Policy at Central European University. Jenny received her BA in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA in International Development and Administration from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
You can learn more about Jenny in the interview below:
1. What initially drew you to work in global development?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted my life to be in service of people. As a child of immigrant parents who suffered through war, displacement, and extreme poverty, and growing up in poverty myself, I always wanted to work in a field where I was directly contributing my time and talents to improving the lives of vulnerable people – whether they were in our communities or anywhere else in the world. In college, I traveled to many new places and learned about people and organizations doing inspiring work with and alongside communities to improve their health, education, and food security. I found my global community.
2. What excites you the most about working at Evidence Action?
I have been working in global development for 20 years. I have had the privilege to work alongside many inspiring colleagues worldwide to deliver programs that positively impact people’s lives and confront some of our time’s most complex global challenges. But I am struck by how intentional Evidence Action is – even as a newcomer, I can see that we are extremely focused on our mission, and our values are more than catchy phrases. “Evidence first,” “Think big, act urgently,” and “Economize without compromise” – these values are woven into the fabric of how we think, work, and make decisions every day. I’m so excited to be joining Evidence Action during this period of rapid growth when we are taking on the challenge to deepen, diversify, and significantly expand our programming over the next few years.
3. Which of Evidence Action’s values resonates most for you?
I love them all! But I am intuitively drawn to two: First, “Think big, act urgently.” Despite huge gains over the last few decades, hundreds of millions of people continue to live in extreme poverty – I love how committed Evidence Action is to programming that achieves the most impact possible with its limited resources – and we back it up with evidence! But we also feel a sense of urgency and are biased toward action. Second, “Challenge convention.” I am operationally minded, believing there are always multiple ways to solve a problem. One of my jobs is to help us find the most optimal, efficient way to get there to advance our mission. This requires us to be adaptable, observant, and good listeners, open to trying new things, and willing to let go of things that no longer work.
4. What is the most inspiring anecdote you’ve heard since you joined the organization?
In my first days with Evidence Action, I was so inspired by our CEO, Kanika Bahl, when she told me that our growth was not for growth’s sake – but rather to scale the impact of often neglected, cost-effective programs dramatically. She emphasized that if another organization can consistently deliver the same result of a program more effectively or cost-effectively, they should get funding instead of us. It takes a steadfast commitment to our mission to say these words and mean it! It is a great privilege to be working with such an inspiring team at Evidence Action.